The regular increase in the volumes of traffic that can be observed in most cities and urban agglomerations may be perceived as a sign of urban growth, but also as one of the causes of the degradation of environmental conditions and the quality of life. The increased traffic of private motor vehicles also has an impact on other means of transport, in particular as far as traffic conditions, safety and their respective use is concerned. Given the complexity of the problem of urban transport, we must adopt a global approach in our search for solutions: in this context, electric vehicles may offer solutions, but only if they are integrated into multimodal mobility schemes. Like any other vehicle, of course, electric vehicles are a tool at the service of a transport policy that has the aim of satisfying objectives related to mobility, accessibility, territorial planning, environment and quality of life.
The main aims of this research are as follows :
- to describe the problems perceived in an urban environment concerning the movement of persons and to identify the objectives that communities and users should aim at in particular as far as transport, environment and the environment in which we live are concerned;
- to present the characteristics of existing electric vehicles and the functions that may be performed by these vehicles in the organization of urban transport requirements;
- to examine whether the (or some of the) characteristics of electric vehicles may be useful to achieve the defined objectives; in this case, to propose new concepts of mobility in the urban environment integrating electric vehicles, while also specifying the nature of the accompanying measures to be implemented.
Electric vehicles have been developed over a number of years, in an attempt to ensure:
- maximum respect for the environment;
- minimum urban clutter;
- flexibility and comfort close to those offered by a private vehicle;
- a transport capacity adequate to satisfy the demand observed in space and time.
The ambition of this research is to differentiate itself from the many research projects and specialized studies carried out over a number of decades concerning electric vehicles. Instead of considering 'solely' technological aspects or elaborating new transport systems as such, it would seem to be much more important to concentrate on an overall transport policy that could accommodate a new form of mobility based on electric vehicles. It is necessary to speak of FUNCTIONS, before detailing the TOOLS that could be used.
The electric vehicle is an interesting 'tool' for improving the quality of life in the urban environment: its lack of noise and atmospheric pollution constitutes an undeniable asset in the reduction of environmental problems in the city, but it must also be integrated in a global context of mobility to achieve not only environmental objectives, but also objectives related to transport and territorial planning.
The introduction of a truly integrated offering in the various transit chains grouping large and medium capacity public transport and free service vehicles with or without prior reservation therefore constitutes a very interesting alternative to the almost exclusive use of private vehicles. In the longer term, the availability of vehicles that can be used both for local and intercity travel should be envisioned.
The principle proposed constitutes a development of two existing, but contrasting systems, that is to say Mobility (self-sharing vehicles) and City Car (free service vehicles), thus allowing us to offer an answer that is better adapted to the various mobility needs encountered in urban agglomerations. This new form of mobility should be accompanied, of course, by the introduction of traffic reduction shuttles to ensure the continuity of certain transit chains in the urban environment and urban agglomerations.
Among the conclusions that may be drawn at the end of this research, it should be pointed out that the user must be able to count on continuity in the transit chain thanks to interchanges with the 'heavy' networks that constitute the true structure of public transport networks or with stations of vehicles available for free service. These vehicles available for free service should benefit from special measures aimed at ensuring their competitive use in relation to automobiles, such as:
- complementarity with the various public transport and road networks (according to the basic principle applied with Mobility);
- possibility of use for urban and suburban travel;
- preferential access in certain areas closed to automobile traffic;
- favorable parking conditions in the urban environment, in particular as far as rates and duration of authorised parking are concerned;
- any preferential tax/tariff measures (purchase of the vehicle, participation in maintenance expenses, taxes, vehicle tax, …).